The Great American Smokeout

Quit for a day, quit for a lifetime

On Thursday, we observed the 36th annual Great American Smokeout — a time when smokers are encouraged to give up tobacco for the day.
The thought is, if you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.  Likewise, non-smokers can participate too. They can become a tobacco facilitator. They can also sponsor a smoker and provide them with the support needed to keep the day smoke-free. 

The Department of Defense conducts a health related behavior survey every three years used to measure the health related behaviors and lifestyles of active-duty military personnel. Tobacco data from the 2008 survey indicates AD USAF usage of 23.3

percent, AD Navy usage of 32.4 percent and AD Army usage of 38.2 percent.
On Ramstein, 23 percent of active-duty members use tobacco. These statistics are mostly made up of E-1 through E-5. 

Should we be concerned about tobacco usage? 
Absolutely. Tobacco use is directly related to overall health and wellness, adversely affects PT run time, yields $90 million in lost productivity within the USAF and overall incurs $25 million in increased medical costs to the USAF.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin released the following message: “Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for you and your family. No matter how long you have smoked, there are major and immediate benefits to quitting now. Within minutes of quitting your heart rate drops and within a day the carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal. Within two weeks to three months, your risk for a heart attack decreases. The benefits only get better the longer you remain tobacco-free.”

A report from the U.S. surgeon general entitled, “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease,” reports there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure to tobacco smoke — even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke — is harmful. The damage from tobacco smoke is immediate and the longer one smokes, the more damage is incurred. The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of tobacco-related disease and death is to never smoke.

What is being done at Ramstein to combat this issue and help both active duty and family members quit?
The health and wellness center conducts a six-part series, modeled after the American Cancer Society’s evidence-based FRESH START program. Additionally, medication management and behavior modification is a vital part of long-term quitting. This program includes a one-on-one counseling session with a pharmacist who prescribes medication tailored to the client’s needs.

Squadrons can appoint tobacco cessation facilitators trained at the HAWC, and these liaisons can be an advocate/resource to quitting in the work place. If you work in a high tobacco utilization unit/environment, you too can become a tobacco cessation facilitator.

The goal of the Great American Smokeout is to remind people that “tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.”

By quitting, smokers can significantly increase their life expectance. This fact is even more relevant today as the government debates about health care reform and encourages Americans to live a healthier lifestyle.

The HAWC has resources and tool-kits to support this effort. All you need to do is make the call, 480-4292, stop by, and visit our website ( or Facebook page.
(Courtesy of Ramstein HAWC)